I'm in Arlington, Massachusetts visiting Toni's sister Beryl. It's her 50th birthday and we have some serious celebrating to do. So far the weather has been gorgeous, and right now it's almost 7 am and it's going to be a beautiful day today also. So first we went down to the reservoir -Toni and Beryl took a walk by themselves, then I joined them and then went off by myself to commune with a stream and some ducks. Beryl had the day all planned out. First we went to the Gardner Museum. It was just too beautiful out and the museum was too crowded- and with my usual claustrophobia I just didn't want to go inside- there was a park across the street so I hung out with two Canadian Geese at another stream and listened to my Rush CD - which I love. I wrote out the words to "Miracles":
"I wasn't walking on water, I was standing on a reef when the tide came in/ swept beneath the surface/lost without a trace/no hope at all/no hope at all/O Sweet Miracle (three times) then O Sweet Miracle of life/ I wasn't walking with angels I was talking to myself/rising up to the surface/raging against the night/starlit night/O Sweet Miracle (3 times) O sweet miracle of life/ I wasn't praying for magic I was hiding in plain sight/rising up from the surface/to fly into the light/into the light/O sweet miracle (3 times) love's sweet mirace of life"
I realize it's very corny, but if you can, listen to the song I think it't pretty great. Actually, I don't know the title of the album because someone gave me a copy of it.
So after about 2 hours Toni and Beryl came out of the museum and we on to our next planned event which was a 3D Imax movie-"Ocean Wonderland." This was fun except for the screaming kids and the crowdedness. I kept reaching out for the fish as they swam nearby just to tease Toni. The best part was an incredibly huge sunken ship where millions of fish make their home. As we were leaving, I heard over an usher's walkie talkie: "Does anybody know if Stephanie is still here?" That was a bit eerie. My blogger family seems to be everywhere! I would be visiting with Jim Behrle this weekend if he wasn't in Arizona, and also I have to miss the gala group reading here next weekend that includes Nada, Gary, possibly Drew, Carolyn Crumpacker and many Boston poets I would have loved to meet. But, as it happens, next weekend I am giving a reading in Manhattan at the Ceres Gallery on Friday night with the amazing Jerome Sala- one of the fathers of Slam Poetry and Rachel Levitsky.
So after the movie, Beryl took us to the best seafood restaurant I've ever been to in my life: "Legal Sea Foods." It was a little strange to eat so much fish after watching so many of them swim around in the movie. I had a coupla Newcastle dark ales and I got a little rowdy with the waitress, who said we were the most entertaining table that night- man, that place was crowded! I had an amazing spicy shellfish stew called Cioppa or something like that. It came with lots of gravy, French bread and jasmine rice. The waitress works in a Middle School and I mentioned that Beryl has two teenage sons. She said she thought that girls were more difficult and I said, yeah, they're always in a panic about something. When I worked in a middle school frequently a teenage girl would show up in the psychologist's office on Friday at 3 pm to say she was suicidal, which meant that the crisis team could not leave until the matter was settled. The waitress thought I had had two too many beers when I tried to imitate a suicidal teenager in Spanish. Then we left, and I came home and very kindly Beryl leant me her Apple laptop on which I'm writing to you now. I read all lthe blogs last night -including the very gracious acceptance by Bill Marsh recently of the fait accompli oxymoron of the year award! - and early this morning read David Hess' first thing as often he blogs either late the night before or early in the morning. Today he said he was doing a "NIck Piombino" by offering some notebook writings. Hey David, these were great, I want to see more.
Anyway, yesterday, sitting at the reservoir, I wrote this blog:
Not long after getting involved with literature, I got into the habit of wandering off the beaten path. You have to understand that I read a lot, because I was an only child until I was 13 when my brother Richard was born. My parents and I lived in Nurnberg, Germany when I was a kid, and then we moved to San Francisco,where I attended some great schools. My only constant friends in my childhood were books, and I liked to have a lot of friends and I liked to meet a lot of different types of people (still do, which is why I am a therapist and social worker) only at that time I met them all in books. What are books, anyway, but people. The ideas have been pretty much the same since day #1: you live, you love, you work, you die. So much for subject matter. Because of the endless similarities, I got interested in non-narrative elements. I got interested in these because they varied the mix. Varying the mix moved prosaic elements closer to poetry. When you study the matter closely you realize that there are non-narrative elements in all poetry. Especially all very interesting poetry. I haven't knowingly read any Flarf but I'll bet you dollars to donuts that the deal is in admitting nonsense elements - which are closely allied with non-narrative elements. Non-narrative elements can always be translated back into narrative elements via associations. Toni was poking some sticks into the ground in a circle at the reservoir. She called this her "monument to the future."As she did so, she was talking about Seth's ideas of the far future. So I said "So you want to stick around to see the far future." I had translated her action into its original form: a thought- a wish to experience the future. Non-narrative elements work like this, increasing the range of interpretability.
My friend David Hess has a beef with so-called Language poetry, but I think if we talked more about the techniques and less about this group of people who focused on these techniques it would be more useful. Anyway, David seems to have discovered that instead of spicing up the mix with non-narrative elements you can use a lot of wit, humor and even sarcasm. The problem with sarcasm is that when it is too biting, like too many red hot peppers, it burns people's palates and sometimes they don't want return to the restaurant. I, for one, love hot peppers, so I usually really enjoy David's writing. But I worry sometimes when people get their feelings hurt.